Protecting children against sexual exploitation and abuse
Threats such as cybercrime and the sexual exploitation and abuse of children through information and communication technologies pose particular challenges. The Council of Europe is addressing these by setting common standards and policies, by supporting educational, preventive and other measures to empower children, by promoting criminal justice action and by strengthening multi-stakeholder and international cooperation.
Council of Europe standards related to the protection of children and the promotion of their rights include numerous treaties and recommendations, in particular the:
- Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (CETS 005)
- European Social Charter (CETS 035)
- European Convention on the Adoption of Children (CETS 202 as revised)
- European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CETS 126)
- European Convention on the Exercise of Children's Rights (CETS 160)
- Convention on Cybercrime (CETS 185)
- Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (CETS 197)
- Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (CETS 201)
- Recommendation Rec(2006)12 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on empowering children in the new information and communications environment
- Declaration on protecting the dignity, security and privacy of children on the Internet, adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 20 February 2008
- Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)5 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on measures to protect children against harmful content and behaviour and to promote their active participation in the new information and communications environment, adopted on 8 July 2009.
The “Budapest” Convention on Cybercrime is the global standard on cybercrime. The implementation of the Convention is followed by the Cybercrime Convention Committee (T-CY), which is also responsible for dealing with policy issues and legal questions arising from the practical co-operation under this instrument. The Convention stipulates that state parties:
- criminalise offences against and through computer systems. Article 9 covers child pornography in a broad manner
- introduce procedural law measures to provide law enforcement with effective means to investigate cybercrime including child pornography and the sexual exploitation and abuse of children related to computer systems
- cooperate efficiently with each other and provides a framework for international cooperation, including police and judicial cooperation in computer-related cases involving crimes against children.
This treaty represents the global standard and is open for accession by any country. Canada, Japan and South Africa have signed it, the USA has ratified it and Chile, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and the Philippines have been invited to accede. More than 100 countries around the world have used or are using this treaty as a guideline for national legislation.
With regard to cybercrime, including computer-related offences against children, cooperation between law enforcement authorities and service providers is essential. For that reason, the Council of Europe – through the Project on Cybercrime – developed “Guidelines for the cooperation between law enforcement and ISPs in the investigation of cybercrime”.